“You are not in a contest with other people, you are in a contest with yourself. Every day find ways that you can improve yourself–your character, your efforts, your knowledge, your creativity, your ambitions…your emotions.” –(me–quote from me today)
For my son’s first Birthday, I wanted it to be extremely simple and cheap (use what I already had on hand) but also have some fun and bright memories (and pictures) for future years.
If you’re not into children’s movies/cartoons/videos/characters what to do for a Birthday? I’ve found that a good (and extremely cheap) way to create a “Birthday Party Theme” is to look around your house and take account of toys and books that you already have.
No, I do not go onto the internet first “to look for ideas”. In fact, I highly discourage it because you’ll be intimidated by all the amazingly perfect creations put forth by other experts. You’ll either decide not to do anything–for fear that it will be a failure or you’ll be tricked into thinking that you have to spend a bunch of money “to get the right look”. (I’ve probably been on Pinterest less than 10 times in my entire life! No kidding).
Also, this isn’t very creative is it? The point is, COME UP WITH THE IDEA IN YOUR OWN MIND FIRST and, if you absolutely have to, start surfing around the internet because, say, you forgot the recipe for the frosting you have in mind. You get the picture.
What are a bunch of things already at your fingertips that you can extract a theme from? For us, it was space-related things. Mind you, we only had a couple things in this category, but I thought it would be fun to create a tiny little First Birthday Party for my son along this genre. It would just be our family, of course, since we don’t have any relatives or friends here in Alaska.
I didn’t want to buy a cake; but I did want to experiment with another homemade cake that you form into something related to the theme. After all, I had all the ingredients on hand and it’s more baking practice for me.
This time, I chose a rocket ship. I used the same white cake recipe I’ve used in the past–extremely boring and not the best flavor in the world–but SUPER EASY TO WORK WITH. You can find it on an earlier blog post of mine called “Pagan Party For Kids” or “My Robin’s Easter Egg Cake”.
Once baked and cooled in the fridge in plastic wrap (overnight), I pulled it out and cut the cake into a rocket ship using a template I made from paper.
And I did a quick frosting job here. No, that’s not fondant, it’s just powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla frosting that has been tinted.
With a cake like this, we will be flying to the moon in no time.
I also made a couple little rocket ships from cereal box cardboard.
Our Baby having his first Birthday!
Everything pictured here are things that I already had on hand. I didn’t buy a single thing. Even the Birthday candle was my daughter’s when she turned 1! Remember the old phrase, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Birthday presents were sent to us from Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie, of course.
Ahh, so you’re back to check out my blog! Thanks for showing some interest. This time, I’ll take you on a brief recap of our LONG DRIVE from central Oregon all the way to Alaska.
I can’t believe that we are starting a new life in another world. I only wish I could have had the time to go over our journey in detail– and describe it to you to accurately capture it’s magnitude.
We traveled for over a week. Our road trip began in Central Oregon and ended in Alaska. Below: Our trip started out in dry, central Oregon. Here is our darling Clementine–just past the Ghost Town of Shaniko. Wheat fields begin to emerge.
For 7 days we stayed in motels, hotels and lodges in Washington state, British Columbia, the Yukon and finally, Alaska.
As a child I would think of the northern Washington border as where the land ended. It was a fuzzy, almost invisible place in my mind. You can imagine my surprise when we crossed the northern Washington border into another country– Canada–and entered into the Grand, seemingly endless expanse of British Columbia!
We were lucky to have my parents come along for the journey. They helped with the looooong days of driving both our vehicles–with a screaming 10 month old in the backseat (sorry Dad!) and a demanding 2 1/2 year old in the other one.
One of the things you’ll notice about Canada is that once you cross the border–everything appears more orderly…less sprawling. Space seems to be used and conserved more neatly. Even the people are in better shape. I didn’t realize how many vineyards there were in British Columbia! Remember to turn on your headlights when driving in Canada–even during the daytime.
You’ll notice two prominent fast food chains that seem to pop up in every city–Tim Hortons and A&W. We shuddered when we heard the locals refer to Tim Hortons as “Timmy’s”; of course, they could have referred to it as “Horty’s” which would have been even worse. It’s a coffee-bagel-doughnut-sandwich shop all rolled into one that the Canadians seem to be quite proud of.
If you aren’t aware, Canadians frequently use expressions like these:
1. You Betcha’
(Fun Fact: Like Canadians, Liberians are another group of people who use the expression “Oh” and attach it to the end of some sentences to add emphasis and drama).
3. Whenever the word “out” was used, it sounded more like “oat”–as in Quaker Oats.
Kelowna, British Columbia.
This place would have been SURREAL had it not been for the cloaking of smoke that suffocated the entire province during our travels.
If you have a chance, type the words “Kelowna, BC” into Google. You’ll be shocked that such a gorgeous city exists–and you never even heard about it. There is an incredible lake in Kelowna with beaches, docks and scenic boatyards. A park wraps around a section of the lake just walking distance from downtown. There you’ll find resplendent flower beds like these.
Kelowna is cute–and tight–with a sufficient population to make you feel like “You’re in the big city”. I hear that this lovely Canadian city is GROWING–one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. I’m sure on a sunny day you can see the beautiful city with the lake in its fullness and the vineyards that surround it in the distance.
I met a couple amicable bums in Kelowna and I found a little clock tower..
We stayed at a Super 8 motel here run by a friendly Indian couple. It was super clean too. There’s a little seating area and fireplace in the lobby with (if I recall) Elk racks on the walls. You feel as if you’re about to embark on some grand hunting expedition.
Valemount is a perfect launching-off spot if you want to head into Alberta and check out Jasper National Park.
Jasper National Park, Alberta.
Even with all the smoke, we were riveted by this glorious National treasure. Think of Yellowstone on Steroids. Nah, it doesn’t even come close with these towering peaks!
Dawson Creek, British Columbia.
This is where the famous Alaska Highway begins … ALCAN HIGHWAY.
Northern Rockies Lodge, British Columbia
I can’t find adequate words to capture this spot. Northern Rockies Lodge was, by far, one of the best experiences of our trip. It was the quintessential mountain lodge made of hewn logs, hidden inside the northern-central region of British Columbia–AWAY FROM EVERYTHING. You even get a Canadian cowboy strumming a guitar in the middle of the dining area singing country tunes.
Our Lodge on Muncho Lake. They offer little float plane rides into the mountainous scenery for $250 a person.
I highly recommend this place if you ever happen to be in the tip-top North of British Columbia (in the summertime, of course). You’ll go through some stunning mountain territory just to get to the lodge. Then, you’ll be ready for an Alpine dinner! Wait…I feel like I’m in Switzerland.
We even came across a mama and baby moose in the middle of the road. If you take a moment and squint, you can see the moose in my very professional video here. I didn’t want to get out of the vehicle. Moose are 1000 lb animals and they can charge. My husband was driving the car in front of us.
The scenery in the Northern region of BC is terribly dramatic. I want to go camping here someday.
Dad making a wild buffalo angry. Wilderness in Northern BC
My Video: I’m walking towards these mountain goats/sheep?
This place is weird but truly amazing! We were accosted by people dressed up like unicorns at the Yukon border. This never happens.
You gotta check out the visitor center once you get into the Yukon. My little baby boy was happy to be with Grandma!
Ahh, the splendor of the Yukon territory. Crisp, pristine and unspoiled by annoying campers. It unfolded in all its glory for us to see. If you want to get away from tons of campers and hikers (and actually enjoy the scenery) the Yukon summons you.
MY DAD LEFT ME STRANDED IN THE YUKON WITH NO CELLULAR RECEPTION
I WAS BUSY TAKING SELFIES OUTSIDE OF OUR CAR AND MY DAD (also taking pics on the other side of the road) HOPPED BACK INTO THE CAR AND TOOK OFF WITHOUT ME! I WAS LEFT STRANDED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE YUKON BY MYSELF WITH NO INTERNET OR CELLULAR/PHONE connection.
All I can remember is watching my Dad hop back into the vehicle and floor it down the road. “WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTT! DAAAAAAAAAAAAD! DON’T GO! I’M STILL HERE! If you were a bear you could hear me screaming in the middle of the road as he left me in the dust. No one anywhere. No towns for miles. Cars almost never passing. Nothing. Just brutal, beautiful nature. Oh, and there are TONS of wild animals here!
Fortunately my Dad noticed I wasn’t in the car about 45 minutes later (He thought I had fallen asleep in the back seat) and turned back around. This was a very memorable experience.
I can’t stop raving about this place. This is one of the most awesome spots on the planet. The Yukon river flows swiftly beside the city of Whitehorse. There is a quaint little downtown with great restaurants. There’s even a rainbow colored crosswalk for all of you LGBTQ folk. We found a cool Totem pole here–picture below.
I encountered a white Canadian Photography couple who were taking photos of a native Canadian man, carving a moose (or elk?) rack. When I asked if I could take a picture of him carving the rack too, they all three stared at me in disbelief.
“Where are you from?” the white man asked. “I’m from Bend (Oregon).” “Where are you from?” I asked back. “Well, we’re from Yellowknife (Northwest Territories).” And it ended like that. Go figure. They’ve probably got more street cred than I do.
In the summer, the sun seems to shine brightly with tons of blue sky. The air is so refreshing here that you’ll be instantly purged of toxins. The mountains that surround Whitehorse are at your fingertips offering trails galore. If you hate the cloying heat in the lower/middle parts of the globe during summertime but enjoy the sun…the bright light….this place is just for you!
Clementine stacking the creamer containers while waiting for food at Fast Eddy’s. (Paradoxically, you’ll wait for a long time to get your food here.)
The last part of the drive!
We ended our trip in Anchorage, Alaska. To find out more, please keep following my blog!